LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A man accused of punching another man in a casino fight and causing his death is now facing a murder charge, according to Las Vegas court records.
Michael Shane Saunders was initially charged with battery for the Aug. 27 fight in the lobby of the STRAT Hotel but the charge was upgraded to murder after the victim, 73-year-old Thach Nguyen, who suffered a brain bleed and fractured skull, died.
According to the arrest report, Saunders told police his fiancee was standing in line for the hotel check-in when he heard her say “stop touching me” and “get away from me” to Nguyen who was standing behind her.
Saunders told police he didn’t know what was going on but believed the man was attempting to sexually assault his fiancee so he intervened. The report said surveillance video showed Saunders walk up behind Nguyen, never say anything, and punch him once in the face with a closed fist. Nguyen fell to the ground unconscious.
“Once Theresa and Saunders realized what happened, they grabbed their luggage bags for their expected stay and left the area,” the report said.
According to the report, witnesses told police the verbal fight started over COVID-19 social distancing protocols and the woman had accused Nguyen of standing too close to her.
Saunders was taken into custody before he left the casino. He is being held without bail and due in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 19.